This could break my heart or save me
Nothing's real until you let go completely
So here I go with all my thoughts I've been saving
So here I go with all my fears weighing on me
Kelly Clarkson - Sober
Something crackled in the distance. I was unaware of what this was and the inquisitive part of me longed to find out but my body refused to move. I opened one of my eyes, the other remaining stubbornly closed. Something warm coated my cheek beneath the eye that would not open and beyond that something cold and hard pressed against my face. I pressed the palm of one hand against the cold floor and attempted to push but my arm buckled from the pain of what felt like a thousand daggers piercing my arm. I allowed it to fall lifelessly to the ground and sobbed silently into the stone.
I couldn't remember much of what had happened. All I could remember was pain, voices, and then nothing. I assumed that I had passed out from the pain.
The fire which crackled by my head cast a strange orange light across the floor and bathed me in an uncomfortable warmth. I could vaguely make out a blood-stained poker leaning against the frame of the fireplace and my stomach tightened, waiting for the pain to return. My ears strained to pick up even the faintest of noises. Where were they?
Then I heard it. Footsteps. My body tensed and my eyes closed, preparing to fight back if I was capable of it. The footsteps stopped, pausing, it seemed, in consideration. I was ashamed to feel my hand tremble on the floor. The footsteps continued until I could feel their owner standing directly beside me, pausing once more as they no doubt stared down at my seemingly lifeless form. Then I felt hands beneath my arms, gripping me gently whilst they lifted me. I flinched slightly before noticing the error in my logic. This was not Quinn. Quinn would never hold me so gently, he would never lift me so carefully that I barely felt any pain. I relaxed, grateful for the hands that knew I was in pain. I was delerious from the pain-induced slumber that I had fallen into but I know whose hand they were. No hands ever touched me this way except his. But how did he escape?
The hands slowly moved down my arms, something moist slipping beneath them. That was when I realised. These hands were not marred in any way, I could feel no callouses nor the gentle roughness that I loved about my lover's touch. These hands were flawless, the skin so soft it seemed unnatural. These hands had touched me before, far too many times when they were unwanted. As though this knowledge had cause a surge of adrenaline within me (which it probably had), I jerked my elbow back, ignoring the searing pain as my torn skin was pulled tight. When I heard the shocked grunt behind me I lept forward, towards the cottage door. I am sure it would have been a comical sight had the situation not been so life threatening. No sooner had I leapt to my feet had my legs buckled and my head missed the corner of the table by mere millimetres as I crashed to the floor.
I groaned as my ankles burned, the imprint of the rope that had bound them to the chair etched into my skin.
"What the hell are you doing?" Paul roared, the table groaning in protest as he used it to help him to his feet. "I was trying to help you!"
"Help?" I laughed, my voice sounding gruff and slightly distorted. I rubbed the eye that had previoulsy been unable to open, not wanting to look at Paul.
To my surprise he did not reply with a venomous quip nor did he look as though he wanted to threaten me. Instead he looked at me with...well, I don't quite know. What I saw in Paul's eyes was not only something I had never seen before but also something I never expected to seen in the man I so openly despised. It seemed as though, for once in his life, Paul Slater was actually speechless.
I laughed bitterly and rubbed my arms, not wanting to look at my previously flawless skin. I could feel shallow wounds beneath my fingertips and the blood that was beginning to dry around them. I didn't want Jesse to see me like this, that was for sure.
Paul stepped around the table, pausing yet again when his eyes met mine.
"Suze, I-" he started. "Suze, I never meant for this to happen. You have to believe me when I say that."
"No, you did want this," I told him. "You wanted me to pay for loving someone else and not you. Well you got what you wanted."
He flinched at my words and I cackled.
"What is the matter? Is it not quite how you pictured it? Life never works that way. You always knew that I would die for him. Well now you can watch it happen."
"Suze, you have to believe me when I say that I never intended for it to go this far," he choked. His voice broke slightly and it was obvious that this was unintentional.
"I...I underestimated you," he admitted, lowering himself into a rickety wooden chair. "You are a lot stronger than I gave you credit for, and that was our undoing. It wasn't supposed to end like this."
Paul looked so honeslty distraught that for a moment, I almost bought his pathetic little act. Deep down, I thought that he was genuinely hurting but logically, it made no sense. The Paul Slater I knew was cunning, he was ruthless and above all he was manipulative. I was already on death row, I was certainly going to die so why should I fall for another act? I had nothing to hide, nothing to hide from and no reason to act innocent and pure anymore.
"Please," I spat, turning away from him. "I'm dying, at least have the decency not to lie to me. Assume no longer that I am pathetic and weak and will easily succumb to your charm or fall for one of your evil lies. Respect me at least that much. That is all I ask."
Paul did not reply, nor did he appear to be thinking about it. He simply rose to his feet and shook his head from side to side, as though trying to shake off the responsibility of everything he had done.
"At least one of you is going to die, Suze," he spoke solemnly. "Quinn will kill both of you unless he obtains a confession within the next day. Suze...you have to tell them that Jesse cast a spell on you or something. That way, he will be blamed and you will be virtually immune to further accusations. Please, Suze, you have your whole life ahead of you, a good life."
If I had enough energy to lash out at him, Paul Slater would be writhing in pain for daring to suggest such a thing. Instead, I laughed and shook my head.
"Out of the question."
Paul stepped around the table and grabbed my upper arms painfully. I tried to protest, but his pleading voice interrupted mine.
"Suze, do you honestly think that this is what Jesse would want?" He demanded, shaking me violently. "Do you think he wants to witness Quinn torturing you to death? If you had never met him, none of this would have happened and he knows that. He would die for you Suze, I've seen it in his eyes. Do you want him to suffer? Surely you want him to be free from pain. Only in death can we every truly be free!"
His hands slid down my arms, releasing my arms from his tense grip. My breath caught in my throat as the true meaning of his words hit me. Loathe as I was to admit it, he was right. I had caused nothing but pain to those around me and I had nobody to blame but myself. If I had not fallen into Paul's trap, I would not have been forced to flee the village and had I not been so reckless as to return, Jesse and I would never have been caught.
A solitary tear trickled down my cheek, mingling with the blood that I had shed for my love. I had been so selfish, so blind. I loved Jesse so much that I would do anything for him, anything to ensure that he suffered no longer. I had to do what I could while I was still capable of doing it. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but I made it nonetheless and did not regret it in the few moments I took to reconsider what I was about to do.
"I will do it," I sobbed, more to myself than to Paul.
I watched the fear fall from his handsome features as my words reached his ears. It was unnerving to see such happiness flood a person I had previously thought to be incapable of any emotion besides hatred.
"Suze, this is...you are doing the right thing, I swear it," he exclaimed, unable to surpress a smile.
I waited patiently as he called for Quinn, staring at my coal-blackened toes as I wiggled them to reassure myself that I was still alive and at least in control of my own body. For now...
Quinn spoke with an impatient tone as he enquired as to why he was called. I assumed that he thought it was a waste of his time.
"Is this true?" he asked, his cold eyes moving to focus on me. There was a glimmer of hope in his voice but his words were heavy with humour. He doubted my ability to confess to anything other than hating him and his voice betrayed this belief.
I swallowed deeply, the copper tang that rested on my lips causing a wave of nausea to hit me. At least that was what I told myself it was. I shivered despite the sweltering heat that radiated from the fireplace, telling myself that I had no other choice. My fingers trembled and my voice caught in my throat, as though my whole body was against what I was about to say. I would despise myself for the rest of my life for putting Jesse through so much pain, but I could see clearly now that there was no other way and to allow both of us to die at the hands of such a psychotic, deluded man was pure madness. Paul was right; I hated watching Jesse suffer and every moment with me was another moment of pain to last to his unjust punishment. 'It is like putting down cattle,' I assured myself, 'one quick shot and it is all done...three simple words and he will be free forever. Free from pain, free from suffering...free from me' . I hoped that somewhere in his heart, Jesse would find a way to forgive me, to forgive all that I had done and everything I had put him through. And also everything I was about to put him through.
Swallowing my fear, I found my voice and spoke.
"I bewitched Jesse."
Paul's scream followed almost immediately, bringing about a frenzy of sorts. Arms grabbed me and slammed me into the table, no doubt leaving a pretty sizeable bruise on my thighs.
"What are you doing?" he screamed as Quinn looked into my eyes, searching for the slightest evidence to support my claim.
"She is lying!" Paul screamed. "That bastard de Silva bewitched her! He is making her say these things so that he will live."
"Is this true?" he demanded, ignoring Paul's pleading shouts.
I nodded feebly, diverting my eyes from Quinn's.
"All I ever wanted was for him to love me," I sobbed. "I did not mean to hurt him so."
Quinn jerked on my arms and pushed me into Patricia's grip.
"Tell the governer to expect a burning tomorrow night," he told Paul, his voice alive with victory and jubilation. "And please summon a carriage for Mr. de Silva."
My eyes met Paul's as I was led back to the damp cell. I almost regretted my actions when I saw the pure terror in his expression, but I reminded myself that hurting him made my sacrifice so much more satisfying.
"Only in death can we ever truly be free," I reminded him.
No words were spoken as I was dragged down the dark corridor, no insults thrown my way. It was soothing in a way, but left me to my thoughts as I watched the heavy wooden door gradually move closer and closer to me.
Even as I was thrown through through the doorway, I could not articulate my thoughts in a way that allowed me to consider how I was to tell Jesse about what I had just done. The enormity of those three words would shatter more than my hope. But what was done was done, and there was no going back.
The door slammed shut behind me, leaving me with my thoughts...and my lover.
"Susannah," he breathed, his rought hands resting gently on my tear-stained cheeks. "Dios, Querida. When you did not return, I feared for the worst."
The warmth of his lips did not sooth my aching heart as they softly brushed mine and I did not react to their presence, refusing to kiss them back.
"Querida?" he questioned, a worried expression spreading across his weary face.
He knew what I had done before I could find the words to tell him. My eyes betrayed me, they always did. I would have given anything not to have witnessed his broken expression, I would have taken back every word I had said if it meant I never had to witness the light leave his eyes. I could not even begin to understand the emotions that choked me and I was glad for that simple fact because I knew that I would have broken down and sobbed my heart out if I truly understood what I had done. As much as I wanted to utter some words of reassurance, I was barely able to choke out two words.
AN - Well, there you go, another chapter. I can't give a timeframe for the next chapter, but I am determined to finish this. There are only a few chapter left, so hopefully it shouldn't take too long :).
I apologise for anything that seemed off. I had to force myself to write it, lol. I hope it came out as it was intended.